At home, the month of December is always a very hectic time. Happily so, in most cases, and always a result of personal choices and not inherent in the celebrations at all, but still … hectic. I thought that maybe being outside of that culture – being in a place where I’ve found so much space to breathe – that the busy-ness of Christmas wouldn’t reach me. Not so, and as always it was still my choice.

In fact, Christmas snuck up on me. I could hardly fathom that it’s that time of year right up until December 18 when I asked a co-worker about meeting the next week, and she gave me a funny look and said the office will be closed. Right. And with that I ran smack into the busy-ness – find some sort of low-cost festive decorations, buy a small gift for my office mates, prepare something for my son that would acknowledge that he’d be here on Christmas day. Listen to ALL the Christmas music!

It wasn’t a lot – no major gifts to buy. Just a few stocking stuffers in a gift bag, a box of chocolates, a display of Christmas ornaments. No Christmas dinner to plan, shop for, cook, stress out about. But it was still enough to feel that last minute rush of panic/excitement. And then it was here. More importantly, and then my son was here.

His visit was short – just 5 days on the island, and some of that included traveling from one end to the other. He landed in Montego Bay where we relaxed, played tourist, rode horses, and caught up. Then we headed to Kingston where I showed him some of my haunts, got him to try some Jamaican foods (if you find Festival on the menu in Victoria anytime soon, thank Nathan), toured one of the old old forts from the pirate/colonial/world war days, and got reacquainted. It’s a funny thing how after just a few months apart I felt like our relationship has shifted. He’s been a capable adult for some time, but it took me having a little distance to see how little he needs my interference.

Christmas is a big deal in Jamaica – the decorations, at least in public spaces, are elaborate and impressive. The parties, I’m told, are many. I attended a Boxing Day party that was replete with one of the top caterers in the country at my table, the first black Miss Jamaica, and our host, who is one of the founders of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. I was enthralled with their stories, and the food and decor were amazing. And that was ‘just’ a backyard open house. Because the vast vast majority of Jamaicans identify as Christian, there is an openness about the story of Jesus birth that I find … reassuring.

As always, it was over all too soon. My son was back at the airport beginning his long journey home. The decorations were packed away. The post-holiday reflection begins just long enough for me to have a New Year’s get-away.

It was slightly hectic. And more than slightly merry. It was just as Christmas can and should be.